Rucker talks about his new book & career with us

Multi-time diamond-certified superstar Darius Rucker recently released a memoir titled Life’s Too Short that explores the story of his life through the lens of the music that defined it.

Raised by a single mother in Charleston, South Carolina, Rucker co-founded Hootie & the Blowfish with three classmates at the University of South Carolina in 1986. What began as a party band playing frat houses and dive bars quickly became a global rock pop phenomenon through their double diamond-certified debut album Cracked Rear View, featuring the era-defining hit songs “Only Wanna Be With You,” “Let Her Cry” and “Hold My Hand.” Rucker has since also charted a pioneering path as a solo country music artist, with diamond-certified hit “Wagon Wheel” plus timeless anthems such as “Alright” and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” while sharing the stage and a mic with the likes of David Crosby, Al Green, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Adele, Taylor Swift, and more.

Multiple decades into his illustrious career, Rucker tells the story of his life through the lens of the music that made him, including songs by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder to R.E.M., Kiss, Prince, and, of course, his music with Hootie and as a solo artist. He recounts the unlikely ascent of his band and wild tales of his road-hardened life — one filled with stumbles, missteps and battles with demons, but ultimately resulting in triumph. Candid, entertaining, and moving, Life’s Too Short is a classic story of a man and his music.

We had the honor to ask him some questions regarding the book as well as his music, including his new duet with Jennifer Nettles, his band’s Summer Camp With Trucks Tour, his annual Darius & Friends concert benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and more.

Why was it the right time, now, to write this book?

Some people close to me have been asking me to write a book for years, and I always said I’d do it once our kids were old enough to read it – because if I was going to tell my story, I was going to tell the truth.

Can you talk about the difference, for you as an artist, in how you approach recording and performing with Hootie, versus how you approach recording and performing as a solo artist?

With Hootie, it’s a collaborative effort and there’s a lot of camaraderie and a shared history that influences our music. Solo music is a more introspective process that allows me to explore my personal influences and experiences more deeply. Both are fulfilling in their own ways, but they each scratch a different itch creatively.

And off of that, I have heard Hootie described once as “Not not country,” though I can’t recall to who I should attribute that quote. Much like the Eagles and other bands of decades before, does Hootie’s music sound more “country” to you as alternative and rock genres have morphed over the years?

I’ve always said that “Let Her Cry” is the first country song I ever wrote – and I think Cracked Rear View would be considered more of a country album than pop or rock if it came out today. It’s storytelling at its core, and that’s what country music is to me, but we never thought too hard about where the music might fit in – just that it felt true to us.

You’re going on your first tour with Hootie in over five years with the Summer Camp With Trucks Tour. Why now? And you told NBC’s Today that it might be the last time you guys go out together. What gives you that feeling that this could be final?

There’s a special kind of magic when we perform live together. When we toured in 2019, it was our first full outing in more than a decade and we didn’t want to wait another 10 years to share that with our fans again.

As for this possibly being our last tour, it’s hard to say for sure. While we love coming together to make music, we also have other commitments and passions we’re pursuing. We’re treating this tour as a celebration of everything we’ve accomplished together, and if it ends up being the last one, we want to go out on a high note.

Your annual Darius & Friends concert benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has raised more than $3.6 million over the years. What do you look forward to most about hosting this event each year at the Ryman?

This concert is something I look forward to every year because it’s a chance to bring together some amazing musicians for a great cause. St. Jude does incredible work, and being able to support them through this event is really rewarding. I love the sense of community and the joy of making music with friends, all while raising money for families who really need it. It’s always a special night, and performing at the Ryman just adds to the magic of it all.

In 2023, you were named CMA Humanitarian of the Year. What does that award mean to you?

That was such an honor – and really a testament to my mom, who always instilled in us the importance of helping other people. Music has given me so much, and I feel a responsibility to use my platform to help others. It’s humbling to be recognized for the work I’ve done off the stage and is a reminder to keep pushing forward and doing what I can to make a difference.

You recently released “Never Been Over” with Jennifer Nettles. How did that duet come about?

I still remember the first time I heard “Stay” and immediately said I wanted to sing with Jennifer someday. Her voice is incredible. I wanted this song to be a duet and when we were discussing who would be right for it, somebody said Jennifer Nettles. I told my manager “if she says yes, don’t call anybody else.” I’m so grateful she said yes and took this song to a whole different level.

Carolyn’s Boy was your first solo album in six years. How has your writing and the song selection process grown since the last project?

I took a lot of time to reflect on my life because I wanted the album to be deeply personal. Writing the book actually helped with that, because it was therapy in a lot of ways to process everything I’ve been through. That really opened me up to be more vulnerable in my songwriting, too.

The Riverfront Revival Festival in your hometown of Charleston, South Carolina gives back to your local community. How deep is your involvement in organizing the event and how do you choose which artists to ask to perform?

I’m very involved in organizing the Riverfront Revival Festival. Charleston is my hometown, and giving back to the community there is really important to me. I work closely with the team to ensure that the festival reflects the spirit of the city and provides a platform for a diverse range of artists.

What do you hope people reading the book take away from Life’s Too Short?

I hope people take away the importance of living life to the fullest and not taking things for granted. Life is too short to hold onto negativity or be afraid to chase your dreams. Ultimately, I hope the book encourages people to be kind and to appreciate the moments that truly matter.